Featured Member of the Week: RacingFireman
Please tell us a little bit about yourselfAND How did you first get interested in this hobby/passion?
I am 46 years old and I work as a heavy equipment operator. I have been married for 11 years to my wife Sarah. I have always been mechanically inclined. I have always had a passion to race. Since a very early age, I have been involved in some type of racing, from dirt bikes to ATVs. I started racing lawn mowers approximately 15 years ago during our hometown homecoming celebration – Coalton Days. In the early years, we took totally stock mowers and had a drag race up the main street. As time progressed, we began doing slight modifications to the mowers to make them go faster. The racing eventually changed to a street race around the block on the asphalt. The crowd coming to Coalton Days loved to watch the racing and anticipated the event every year. As more secrets were learned about “souping up” the mowers, the racing became more exciting. A local man saw mower racing on TV and, after his recommendation, the track moved to a grass field laid out with hay bales. This proved to be safer and produced a more exciting “true racing” feel.
Things progressed after Labor Day weekend in 2002. My wife and I were in Ohio and we stumbled across a United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) race occurring in Mansfield. We were intrigued. We booked a room for the night and returned to watch the race the following day. The racers shared a lot of information with us and we were overwhelmed by the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone we met. This lit a fire under me. Upon my return home, I began hours of research about building new mowers.
Still with the desire to pursue racing at the higher level I experienced in Mansfield, I contacted several of my friends who also raced at Coalton, and we all started sharing ideas to make our mowers faster and flashier. When we returned to Coalton Days the following summer, the fans, which numbered 600-800, were treated to an awesome show and the race was the talk of the county. From then on, the crowds came in numbers to watch the Coalton Days mower race, no matter the weather-raining, cold or extremely hot.
I organized a WV racing group and performed several exhibition races around the state in 2008 and 2009, including numerous events at fairs in several counties, and an exhibition at the WV State Fair for more than 1,000 spectators. Due to economic factors, the group eventually disbanded.
With the desire to continue mower racing, I chose to follow the national sanction, the USLMRA. I built two additional mowers. One of my mowers is decaled to include the names of all 343 firemen and first responders who died on 9/11. Another mower is decaled with “Never Forget” as recognition of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The mowers are also tributes to all firefighters – active, retired, and deceased. It takes a special of men and women that devote their time 24/7 and make numerous sacrifices to be in this field, and ask for nothing in return accept for a smile and appreciation. No matter where you may travel across the country, you can count on firemen and first responders to be there in times of emergency. The passion I have for these brave men and women is wrought from mine and my wife’s more than 20 years of service with our local fire department. I personally know the sacrifices made to work and volunteer in this field. Some people are not aware of risks involved with this service; sometimes us firefighters forget this as our focus is doing the job at hand, blind to the risks. Unfortunately, these brave men and women do not always get the respect they deserve, so I wanted to show my respect and share it with others.
What Rides do you currently own?
I have four racing mowers built from mid-90s MTD Yard Machine mowers, built for the USLMRA classes IMOW, BP, CP and SP. My personal vehicles are a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, and a 2009 Toyota Tacoma.
What do you like most about your Cool Rides?
The pride that I have from taking an old lawn mower, fully restoring and building it into a competitive race and show mower, and seeing all the attention and admiration it gets when people see it.
What is the best memory you have with your favorite ride?
Performing an exhibition race at the WV State Fair in front of more than 1,200 people and getting such a positive reaction from the spectators. Also, being the WV State Lawn Mower Racing Champion in three classes for two years straight.
How do you store your ride(s) during infrequent use, and what maintenance tips can you provide for readers?
I check the oil and fluids, and put STA-BIL in my gas tanks. The mowers are secured in a locked trailer during the off-season.
What was the first car you ever owned?
An early 70s model Dodge compact car.
What is/was the BEST car ever made?
What is/was the WORST car ever made?
How did you first hear about the Cool Rides Online website?
Through the USLMRA website.
Is there anything else you’d like the Cool Rides Online members to know about you?
I have always been mechanically inclined, with a creative do-it-yourself mindset. I strive for perfection and quality in my Rides. I am very competitive and have a strong desire to race. I am online everyday researching racing lawn mowers via webpages, chats and blogs. I am always looking for innovative ideas.